Based on the critically acclaimed 2009 namesake book by Philipp Meyer, ‘American Rust’ depicts how the lives of the residents of a disintegrating town in the Rust Belt are affected following a murder. In episode 8, Isaac (David Alvarez) finds compassion for the first time since he has been on the road. Billy (Alex Neustaedter) learns the steep price he must pay to survive in prison. Things start to get out of Harris’ (Jeff Daniels) control, and he takes desperate steps to prove Billy’s innocence. Facing disappointments on multiple fronts, Grace (Maura Tierney) decides that she will no longer play by the rules. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘American Rust’ episode 8. SPOILERS AHEAD.
American Rust Episode 8 Recap
Episode 8, titled ‘St. Sebastian,’ begins with Grace delivering a speech to fellow workers on the night before the votes, explaining why unionizing will be good for all of them. It seems to work. Her speech lights up the bar, and it appears that she has support not just of 51%, but almost all women in the staff. However, after the votes are counted the following day, it is revealed that 70% have voted against a union.
Isaac wakes up to find himself in the apartment of the security guard from the mall. He learns that the other man’s name is Nate, who lets him stay at his home. Since he has been on the road, this is the first time a person has been genuinely kind to him. Isaac later asks Nate about it, and the latter reveals he was once attacked in a similar fashion as Isaac. The two begin to connect and eventually make love. Isaac opens up about his family and tells Nate the St. Sebastian necklace that he has around his neck was a gift from his mother. However, after reading about Billy’s arrest, Isaac leaves without telling Nate. He takes the $200 that Nate kept in a shoebox, leaving behind his necklace.
The dealer, who sold drugs to Trent and Tom and his wife, is arrested. But before Harris can interrogate him, Park hands him over to Sheriff Deluca. Evidently, he doesn’t trust Harris to do the right thing any longer. Harris’ relationship with Grace starts to deteriorate when he realizes that she might be with him to get her son out of prison. Harris puts a tracking device on Jackson’s car and riles the pharmacist up by revealing that they have arrested the dealer. Predictably, he goes to inform Bobby Jesus.
Billy is approached by the leader of the white supremacist gang in prison and instructed to kill a guard. He tries to inform another guard about it but discovers the latter is part of the conspiracy. Ultimately, he doesn’t go through with it and is subsequently placed in solitary confinement for his own safety.
American Rust Episode 8 Ending: Why Does Grace Set Fire to Her Trailer?
To understand why Grace sets fire to her trailer, we must realize that the events leading up to it have shaken her personal beliefs to her core. She has spent most of her adult life working at Gelsey Dressmakers and has developed certain physical issues because of it. She leads a movement to unionize the workers there, knowing how the work has affected her and the other employees. After the speech, she genuinely believes that She has convinced most of her co-workers about the positive aspects of having a union.
But then, Grace discovers that only 30% has voted for a union, which is 21% less than she was sure she and other pro-unionists would get. It seems to serve as a moment of disillusionment for her. Losing on the professional front, she devotes herself entirely to bringing her son back home. She sets fire to her trailer, knowing that Harris will think that the same people who torched her car have done that. She moves in with him, and they promise that they will be there for each other.
It’s a moment of seduction and an earnest one at that. Harris is very aware of what’s happening. Even though he doesn’t know that Grace burned down her own house, he knows why she is there with him and what she wants. And the promises they make to each other carry the full weight of that understanding. For Harris, this promise is no less significant than the one he made to Chuck and the others in Pittsburgh. He probably hopes that he will be able to follow through with this one.
Why Does Billy Fire His Public Defender, Rachel?
Not long after he is taken to the mixed population facility, the horrors of incarnation become evident to Billy. As Harris predicted, Billy’s size draws the attention of his fellow inmates, who decides to test him by forcing him to fight another inmate. When he wins the bout, the white supremacists approach him, unceremoniously make him part of their group, and tell him that he has to murder a guard. As mentioned above, he tries to inform another guard about it, but it is revealed that the guard is in league with white supremacists.
After he takes down the two Aryans who came with him with the help of the guard he was supposed to kill, Billy is sent to solitary confinement. It seems to dawn on Billy that if he stays in prison, he will not survive. And his best chance to get out of there is Rachel, the public defender. But when he is taken to meet with her, he discovers that Lee is there as well. And seeing her, he simply shuts down.
Billy can’t bring himself to tell the truth and reveal that it was Isaac who killed Novick, knowing that it will definitely result in Isaac’s incarceration and cause Lee pain. So, he decides to do the only thing he has done since the entire ordeal began. He takes responsibility and fires the only person who could have saved him.
Read More: Is American Rust a True Story?